Increasing awareness of man's impact on the environment and pressure to behave in a more sustainable manner are encouraging both the recycling and reuse of materials and the replacement of hazardous chemicals with more benign ones. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive and the Restriction on the use of certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) Directive, have recently been adopted into law with the specific intention of further encouraging these activities through legislation. In addition to these directives, there is a growing need to adopt sound design principles so that new products are created in a more environmentally acceptable way and that their environmental impact throughout their lifecycles is minimised. This paper gives an overview of this new European legislation and discusses its impact on the electronics industry. The potential benefits of adopting such an approach are outlined.

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